This slowly simmered pasta sauce will transport you back to the days when your grandmother woke up early on Sunday mornings – painstakingly slow cooking sausage, hand forming tender meatballs and slowly stirring the most fragrant and delicious pasta sauce you have ever eaten.
Who doesn’t love a heaping serving of tender meatballs and savory sausage over a bowl of penne, smothered in a flavorful tomato pasta sauce? MMMMMM… so yummy! In fact, this recipe is not only one of my family’s favorite, but was also one of my most requested entrées when I was a personal chef.
Now for many people, their dinner sauce or pasta sauce or “gravy” recipe – no matter what you call it – is something to be guarded… and is typically handed down from generation to generation. And this recipe is no different, BUT today I am sharing mine with you!
Over the past 12 years I have been testing and improving on this recipe and for the past 2 years have been making this version with great success each and every time. With a few tips, and the right tools, I know YOU will not only LOVE this sauce but so will your family. AND as an added bonus, your house will be filled with the most fragrant aroma.
But enough of my babbling, it’s time for us to get down to business and start making some wonderfully delicious Meatballs and Sausage Sunday Dinner Pasta Sauce!
So let’s get started… first off this recipe takes time to make, this is not a quick making entrée but your time and efforts will be well worth it. Trust me!
Second, there are a few tricks I have learned over the years that will save you tons of time and frustration along with some tools you will want within easy reach as well.
In this recipe, I suggest using one to grind up the hamburger buns you will need to use in the meatballs.
To get perfectly uniform meatballs that are all the same size and weight use an ice cream scoop to measure out the meat.
This is a sure fire way to make your meatballs sooooo much easier.
I use a 2 ounce scoop for this recipe that when the meat is rounded off at the top yields a 2.5 ounce meatball. Be sure to scoop the meat mixture into your hands and roll it around to make a nice ball before putting on the sheet pan. In addition, I like to use a scale to make sure that each meatball is of uniform size and weight (yeah I am a little bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my meatballs).
Make sure you have a good quality sheet pan… and a large one!
There is nothing more frustrating than dropping all your meatballs that you worked so hard to make on the floor because of a flimsy foil pan.
I use 2 half size sheet pans for this recipe.
And finally Tip #4:
If you have never cooked with a water bath it is really easy to do… and as the name suggests it is just as simple as giving the sausage a little bath.
As you can see in this picture I used a deep hotel pan and placed the 10 sausages in the bottom of the pan and then added water.
The water should come up the sides of the sausage about a 1/4 to a 1/2 of the way up… do not submerge them.
We are not looking to boil the sausage but rather keep them nice and moist and prevent them from drying out.
Ok… now that we got all of that out of the way lets get cooking. Below is my Meatballs and Sausage Sunday Dinner Pasta Sauce recipe, I hope you enjoy it!
- 5 Hot Italian sausage (Primo is preferred)
- 5 Sweet Italian sausage (Primo is preferred)
- 2 hamburger or hot dog rolls - about 1½ cups ground (plain white cheap hamburger or hot dog rolls – nothing fancy is needed)but white bread is not recommended.
- 3 Pounds 80/20 lean ground beef
- ¼ Tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tsp Kosher salt
- 3 Tsp garlic powder
- 3 Tsp onion powder
- 1 Tsp Italian seasoning
- ½ Cup ketchup
- ½ Cup Parmesan Romano grated cheese
- 1 Egg
- ¼ Cup Italian Seasoned bread crumbs
- ¼ Cup + 1 tablespoon milk
- 6 Cans Hunts tomato sauce or your favorite store brand 29 oz (I use Harris Teeter store brand sauce)
- 2 large Bay Leaves
- 2 Cups water
- 1 Tsp garlic powder
- 1 Tsp onion powder
- 1 Cup dry red wine (I like red burgundy by Livingston it gives the right balance and believe me I’ve tried everything and this gives the best flavor)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place 5 hot and 5 sweet Italian sausages in a water bath (I use a hotel pan and add enough water so that the water rises about a ¼ to ½ way up the sausage) and cook sausage for 30 minutes (flipping half way through cooking).
- While the sausage is cooking begin to prepare the meatballs by grinding 2 hamburger rolls or hot dog rolls (regular white rolls) in a spice grinder (we use a coffee grinder) until the bread is finely chopped.
- Place ground 1½ cup ground buns in a bowl and add milk, mixing with your fingers to combine the milk and ground buns together, set bowl aside.
- In a second large bowl place 3 pounds ground 80/20 ground beef beef and add ¼ Tsp of freshly ground black pepper, the ground buns mixture you prepared earlier, 1 Tsp Kosher salt, 3 Tsp garlic powder, 3 Tsp onion powder, 1 Tsp Italian seasoning, ½ cup ketchup, ½ cup Parmesan Romano grated cheese,1 egg, ¼ cup Italian Seasoned bread crumbs.
- Mix all ingredients in the bowl together until evenly distributed (you want the ingredients to be well incorporated into the meat).
- Form meat mixture into 2.5 oz sized meatballs, I like to use an ice cream scoop to make the job of measuring out the meat easier (yield is approx. 25 meatballs).
- Place meatballs on sheet pan and cook in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes.
- Remove meatballs from oven when slightly browned and firm to the touch.
- Set sausage and meatballs to the side using tongs or a slotted spoon to drain off any excess fat
- In a large pot add 6 cans of tomato sauce, 2 cups of water, 2 whole Bay Leaves, 1 Tsp garlic powder, 1 Tsp onion powder and 1 cup red wine.
- Bring to a slow boil and then reduce heat to a med to low simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Cut all the sausage in half and place in pot along with meatballs and reduce heat to a med to low simmer.
- Cook sauce over med to low simmer stirring occasionally for approximately 4 to 6 hours. The longer the better!
- Serve over your favorite pasta and enjoy!